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Wageningen at the Guggenheim NY: 'Countryside, the Future'

Published on
February 20, 2020

Clemens Driessen of Cultural Geography and Lenora Ditzler of Farming Systems Ecology participate in a current exhibition in the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

After four years of exploratory visits, exchanges of ideas and increasingly intense collaboration last year, the exhibition 'Countryside, the Future' has opened in the Guggenheim Museum in New York. Students and researchers from a range of disciplines have contributed ideas to highlight the latest directions of agriculture and nature conservation. Clemens Driessen coordinated the Wageningen contribution, together with PhD student Lenora Ditzler of the Farm Systems Ecology group.

The exhibition stages a reflection on how to understand what is at stake in biodiversity conservation, agricultural production, climate change, the importance of soil, insects, leisure, innovation, among other issues. The Netherlands features prominently in the exhibition, from a full-sized reproduction of Paulus Potter's 'Young Bull' to a tomato growing installation on the sidewalk in front of the museum. The top floor is dedicated to agriculture, and features displays showing the different future directions in which Wageningen research is headed.

Driessen's display is an animation which ponders on how the countryside is becoming more and more 'Cartesian'. This visualisation offers a geographical reading of RenĂ© Descartes by exploring the material environments that informed his ideas and drawing out links to the garden of Constantijn Huygens and the origin of horticulture in Westland. RenĂ© Descartes lived in rural retreats in the Netherlands for the most parts of his working life. More about Driessen's involvement can be found here.

A video animation of Ditzler's Pixelfarming project shows how this experiment is being carried out at the Droevendaal experimental farm and reflects on its possible impacts. This includes visualisations on soil science and root interactions (by Wim van Egmond and Gerlinde de Deyn, Environmental Sciences Group) and plant modelling (Jochem Evers, Plant Sciences Group). And it touches on the possibilities of robots.

Another display fetures a 'living' version of an installation called the 'Phenovator' by Mark Aarts (Laboratory of Genetics). It shows live measurements of phytosynthesis of up to a thousand little succulents.